McDonalds join Starbucks consortium to end cup waste

Two of the world’s largest food and beverage retailers will identify and commercialise a recyclable and compostable cup which can be used globally.

The NextGen Cup Challenge aims to offer promising solutions on the recovery of single-use cups, with a focus on the fiber-based hot and cold cup, and working to create a fully recyclable and/or compostable cup in North America.

McDonalds has joined Starbucks, the founding member of the group, to form part of The NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge. It follows recent commitments by McDonalds and Starbucks to turn to more sustainable packaging solutions.

The $5 million investment by McDonalds brings the total project fund to $10 million, which kicks off in September and invites innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and recyclers to submit their ideas for the next generation of recyclable and/or compostable cups.

Awardees will receive acceleration funding up to $1 million based on key milestones. Up to seven of the awardees will enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions.

“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” said Marion Gross, Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, McDonald’s USA.

“We are excited to join Starbucks and Closed Loop to help solve this pressing challenge as collaboration is key to finding a scalable, lasting global solution.”

Colleen Chapman, vice president of Global Social Impact focused on sustainability for Starbucks, said that a better cup will benefit the entire industry and the company invite others to join them as we move their efforts forward.

NextGen builds on years of work in the industry and is a critical step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that will potentially allow the 600 billion cups globally to be diverted from landfills and given a second life.

The consortium is building a robust advisory council including leaders in environmental NGOs including WWF, human-centered design, academic leaders, the paper and plastic industry, recyclers, composters, and municipalities to ensure that the work is grounded in the needs of the entire value chain and the cups make it from shelf to consumer and back through the recovery system to another high value use.

“There has never been a greater need to tackle the ways in which we source and recover materials. McDonald’s participation is a strong step forward in building momentum from major brands to come together and develop innovative approaches to materials waste,” said Erin Simon, Director of Sustainability Research and Development (R&D) and Material Science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S.

“Working together across the entire value chain of these major companies will allow us to create a comprehensive and lasting solution to this critical conservation challenge.”

“To date we have received more than 1000 inquiries from companies and individuals interested in participating in the challenge and we anticipate some exciting and impactful proposals,” said Kate Daly, Executive Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners.

Calls for recycling “latte levy” in the UK

British members of parliament have argued for the establishment of a latte levy to reduce disposable coffee cup waste and help fund recycling.

ABC News reported the UK Parliament’s environmental audit committee also recommended a ban on disposable coffee cups if they are not all recyclable by 2023. The committee found barely any of the more than two billion coffee cups that are tossed away each year are recyclable.

“The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times,” committee chairwoman Mary Creagh said.

“Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands.”

Related stories:

MPs want disposable cups from cafes that do not recycle the items in store to be labelled with “not widely recycled” for consumers to see. The proposed latte levy would be a compulsory 25 pence (40 cents).

The committee said a disincentive would be more effective than an incentive, highlighting the success of the 5-pence single-use plastic bag charge.

“We’ve seen with the plastic bag charge an 83 per cent reduction in plastic bag use,” Ms Creagh said.

“We think the ‘latte levy’ will be the sort of charge that will really make people think, ‘Hang on a minute, I need to bring my cup to work today’, in the same way that they’re now moving more and more to reusable plastic bottles.”

A spokesperson for the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told ABC News the committee’s recommendations would be carefully considered.

7-Eleven and Simply Cups launch cup recycling initiative

A new initiative plans to collect and recycle 70 million takeaway cups annually.

It comes as Australians become increasingly aware of the number of disposable cups that end up in landfills every year.

The partnership between 7-Eleven and Simply Cups will see collection bins for takeaway cups installed in more than 200 7-Eleven stores nationally and 50 other busy locations such as universities and construction sites from March 2018.

Related stories:

“As Australia’s second largest takeaway coffee destination we felt we had a responsibility to take the lead and find a solution to save cups from going to landfill,” said 7-Eleven CEO Angus McKay.

Currently, more than one billion takeaway cups end up in landfill each year in Australia because there is no effective way for cups to be recycled, due to the polyethylene or liquid lining being a contaminant for regular paper recycling facilities. However, there is now a way to treat plastic lined cups.

“Simply Cups now has access to technology that removes the plastic lining from paper-based cups so that both materials can then be processed in regular paper and plastic recycling facilities,” explains Rob Pascoe, Founder of Closed Loop’s Simply Cups.

“By collecting takeaway cups via a separate waste stream, Simply Cups can guarantee that cups collected through the dedicated 7-Eleven bins will be recycled,” he said.